Burn the match.com

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Thom Yorke is right, if I’ve managed to grasp of the lyrical intent of Radiohead’s new, long-awaited, release – Burn The Witch.

We are an easily-offendable lot, these days. Ready to reach for the pikestaffs of protest. If only to hammer our keyboards and post our hurt on twitter n’ twisted..

Brand campaigns are more incendiary than ever. Roughly eighty-seven percent of all billboard ads nowadays are printed on blue touchpaper.

*Edward de Bernays, PR’s founding father, used the same touchpaper to light the little “torches of freedom”, allying women’s emancipation to smoking fags, and sparking some combustible headlines back in 1929.

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So, a bit of (designed) controversy is good PR. Stories touch a psycho-social nerve, take on a life of their own, and spread like wildfire.

And I’m among the first to applaud a bit of storytelling that starts above-the-line, and becomes a word-of-mouth sensation. Ronseal just did it, with quiet rebellion, in their 3 minute slow-TV ad.

I’m pretty sure ‘Freckles’ from match.com was one of the unintentional controversies. I think it was some smart insight, solid brand thinking, that blew up in their faces. Because the new line of offense is so low, so hair-trigger-sensitive, that a sneeze can set it off.

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Match.com have flipped the search for Ms. / Mr. / Mrs. Right, the hunt for perfection, and seized the truth. The (almost) Universal Truth that love isn’t about perfection. And then they’ve had some fun, replaying the insight in their campaigns. “If you don’t like your imperfections, someone else will.”Warm, human, true. Tempting to say – perfect. I saw the poster with the (I think) beautiful freckled person when I was standing on the Circle Line platform at Paddington, and smiled. I’m pretty sure I told someone about it.

And now, they’ve taken them all down. And apologised. Some people went mad on its bigoted hatefulness. In fact, it seems that the perfect-storm is a ‘flurry’. That’s what it takes. A ‘flurry’ of complaints. Someone in that flurry chose to draw a moral-equivalence to issues of skin-colour and race discrimination. I think that’s a bit tasteless. But I’ve contained the fury of my reaction to this blog.I believe we want great brand campaigns, and we’ll feel that the world is just a poorly signposted place without them.

Light(en) up, or we’ll all need a dampened, slightly less flammable, surface to write on.

*made up statistic.

BlogColin Cather